Mary Chapin CarpenterMary Chapin Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards and other honors, but when the singer-songwriter was notified that she will receive the Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award she was overcome with emotion.

Sidelined in 2007 after she suffered severe illness triggered by a pulmonary embolism, Mary Chapin then fell into depression, forcing her to curtail and ultimately cancel her schedule. Now she's back with her latest album 'Age of Miracles,' due out on April 27, the same day she'll receive the award at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

"I couldn't help becoming teary," Mary Chapin tells The Boot. "This means a lot to me. When I stopped working three years ago, the sense of purpose was ripped away. I looked at it as this sentence. In many ways, the sentence came with adversity. I didn't know when I'd do what I do again. Writing songs was an act of faith. But when I did write and did get into the studio with friends, it was celebratory."

The award is presented by the Americana Music Association and the Newseum's First Amendment Center to honor and promote the work of musicians' who don't fit into clear-cut musical formats and often don't find commercial success. Past honorees include Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Judy Collins, Charlie Daniels, and Steve Earle.

Past recipient Judy Collins and musicians Rodney Crowell and Eric Brace will perform during the "Freedom Sings" program, which will also include a discussion with Mary Chapin about her music and career.

Although Mary Chapin didn't attend the recent ACM Awards in Las Vegas, she had kind words for honorees, including Miranda Lambert, whom she met while recording in Nashville.

"I met her and her mom. I love her spirit," she says. "She is not frilly like so many other women artists. She's tough as nails and I think it balances out the frills from so many other artists."

When told Miranda recently stopped a fight at one of her concerts, Mary Chapin laughs and says: "She would kick anyone's ass!"

Download Mary Chapin Carpenter Songs

Mary Chapin Carpenter on AOL Music